How to Do a Henna Tattoo

Five Parts:Making henna pasteMaking the henna paste coneAdding the henna paste tattooRemoving the pasteFixing color problems

Henna tattoos are one of the forms of temporary tattoos. Coming from a south Asian tradition, henna uses a paste made from the powdered leaves of the Henna plant, Lawsonia inermis. Its active dye, Lawsone, binds with the keratin in skin, fingernails, and hair. Traditional henna is drawn in delicate patterns on the hands and feet, but modern henna is applied in all sorts of designs anywhere on the body. Unlike other forms of temporary tattoos, henna does not allow for a full range of colors but only shades of reds, browns, and near-blacks. The paste is applied and left on the skin for several hours to stain. The stain will gradually fade away as the skin sheds. Henna tattoos can last days to over a month depending on application and aftercare.

Part 1
Making henna paste

Note: Begin mixing paste the day before you would like to apply the henna. It takes about 24 hours to prepare the henna paste for application.

  1. 1
    Learn how to make henna paste for using on the tattoo. Pour 20 grams (0.71 oz) or 1/4 of fresh henna powder into a plastic bowl.
  2. 2
    Add 1/4 cup of strained fresh lemon juice.
  3. 3
    Stir the henna powder and lemon juice until they are completely mixed together and no lumps of dry henna powder remain. The paste will be thick, similar to toothpaste or mashed potatoes.
  4. 4
    Add 1.5 teaspoons sugar. Also add cajeput, tea tree and ravensara. Mix the ingredients thoroughly. The paste solution will become smooth and silky.
  5. 5
    Cover the paste with plastic wrap. Press the plastic wrap against the surface of the paste expelling any air pockets.
  6. 6
    Let the paste sit in a warm place, around 75 ° to 85° Fahrenheit/24° to 29° Centigrade, for 24 hours to allow the dye to be released out of the henna leaves so it will stain your skin deeply and as strong as possible.
  7. 7
    Add ¼ teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Add more if needed. The henna paste should be smooth and creamy, similar to yogurt. The mehendi is now ready to be filled in a cone or bottle.

Part 2
Making the henna paste cone

  1. 1
    Make a cone for applying the henna. Cut your chosen material (see Things You'll Need below) into a rectangular shape.
    • Mylar wrap and cellophane wrap make beautiful cones. If you are using Mylar tissue, keep your hands well moisturized, as you cannot roll tissue Mylar if the humidity is low and your hands are dry, as too much static electricity makes the tissue unmanageable.
  2. 2
    Fold one corner inside.
  3. 3
    Continue rolling till the cone is formed.
  4. 4
    Tape the seam to the cone.
  5. 5
    Firm up the tip with tape.
  6. 6
    Using a small spoon, ladle the henna mixture into the cone until two thirds of the cone is filled. Do not fill it up to the very top.
  7. 7
    Seal the mouth of cone with the help of tape. Now the mehndi or henna cone is ready.

Part 3
Adding the henna paste tattoo

  1. 1
    Know how to use the cone. A cone is one of the best tools for the professional henna artist. Cones allow you to make fine lines. You can hold a cone by nestling it between your thumb, palm and first finger.
    • Try not to hold the cone or squeeze from the tip end, as this will weaken your control and the paste may spill out from the sides.
    • Slowly squeeze the cone with the palm of your hand and fingers to create an even line of paste.
    • For extra control, rest the weight of your hand on your little finger.
  2. 2
    Choose a henna design. You're now ready to start applying it. Use the cone to apply the design as chosen.
  3. 3
    Keep a mixture of lemon juice and white sugar ready in a small bowl. Mix 1 teaspoon sugar with 3 teaspoons lemon juice to prepare the mixture. About twenty to thirty minutes after the paste is applied, the henna will lose its shine and the mud will dry and begin to crack.
    • Apply the lemon and sugar mixture gently with a clean cotton patch to that part where henna has been applied; so that the henna does not get dry and fall off. This lemon sugar mixture will create protective “glue” between your skin and the henna. Be careful not to over saturate the paste as designs can run and bleed together. Apply the mixture 2 to 3 times.
  4. 4
    Wrap the painted area by stuffing tissue between fingers, and in the palm of hand. Wrapping need lots of absorbent tissue to wipe up the perspiration.
    • Start wrapping tissues around your hand like a mummy.
    • Wrap plastic over the tissues.
    • Tape the wrap down with packing tape.
  5. 5
    Steam the henna for an extra deep colour (optional). Before you are ready to remove the paste and wraps, hold the area over steam for 10 minutes. A pot of boiling water or tea kettle works well or heat 2 to 3 cloves on an iron pan and put your hands over its fumes. The extra heat and steam help to deepen the stain color.

Part 4
Removing the paste

  1. 1
    Remove the wraps. After the paste has been on your skin for 6 – 12 hours it is ready to be removed. Peel off wrappings and scrape off the paste. Using a paper towel and vegetable oil (corn, olive, and canola) or lemon juice, gently rub off the dried henna paste if it is sticking to the skin. Do not use water to remove the paste, it can ruin the tattoo.
  2. 2
    Let the tattoo take. Once you have unwrapped and removed the dry henna paste you will see an orange-yellow tattoo stain left on your skin. The tattoo will deepen into a richer reddish-brown tone over the next 48 hours.
    • The final color is reddish brown and can last anywhere from one to three weeks depending on the quality and type of henna paste applied, as well as where it was applied on the body (thicker skin stains darker and longer than thin skin). Moisturizing with natural oils, such as olive, sesame seed, or coconut, will also help extend the lifetime of the tattoo, as skin exfoliation is what causes the henna tattoo to fade.
    • It is best to avoid water for the first 24 hours.
  3. 3
    Rub your henna/mehendi with a natural vegetable oil before bathing or swimming, to protect it from water. Corn, canola, or olive oil all work well. Avoid using any petroleum products such as baby oil or Vaseline as they will contribute to the demise of your stain.
    • Avoid excess rubbing of the area.
    • Avoid shaving over your henna/mehendi stain. Shaving removes layers of skin.

Part 5
Fixing color problems

  1. 1
    After removing the Mehndi, if you feel that the color is not good, apply a mixture of half a spoon of oil and lime. The color becomes darker within 2 hours. But that color will only last for 2 days. It is the last possible remedy. Wash your hands with liquid soap to keep the mehendi design for a longer period. Avoid too much rinsing of the hands.


  • The more you practice adding henna tattoos, the easier it will become.


  • Do not go in direct sun without applying sun screen on the design, especially in hot weather.
  • Take an allergy test by making a small design before using black mehendi to check that whether this mehendi suits you.
  • Avoid using black mehendi on children below 8 years as their skin is very sensitive.
  • Henna is known to be dangerous to people with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD deficiency), which is more common in males than females.
  • Adding the synthetic dye p-Phenylenediamine (PPD) to mehendi gives it a black colour. PPD is extremely harmful to the skin and can cause severe allergic reactions resulting in permanent injury or death.[citation needed]
  • Do not henna any infant, ever! Babies' skin is very thin, and henna applied to skin can cause dangerous bilirubin levels in newborns. If the child is a healthy three- year old or more, you may safely apply a very tiny pattern with pure henna mixed with rainwater, and sealed with first aid paper bandage tape.[citation needed]

Things You'll Need

For paste:

  • Fresh henna powder, 20 grams (0.71 oz) or 1/4 cup
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Plastic bowl
  • Spoon
  • Sugar
  • Plastic wrap

For tattoo:

  • Florist wrap/plastic paper/Mylar tissue/Mylar wrap/cellophane gift wrap; the thicker the product, the easier the cone making
  • Scissors
  • Tape

Sources and Citations

Article Info

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